09-20-2018 Columns

Where’s Wendzel? Dear Editor, I was disappointed when my opponent in the Michigan State House race to represent the 79th district, Pauline Wendzel, revoked her invitation to attend a candidate forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Berrien and Cass Counties, Michigan. As you know, the LWV remains a nonpartisan organization that encourages civic engagement and discussion of public policy issues to ensure that voters have all the information they need prior to going to the polls. Given our current political climate, it’s unsurprising that neither of the Republicans seeking to represent the people of the 79th, at the State House or State Senate, has agreed to debate their opponent, particularly considering that it would require them to have explanations for their party’s failures to support our teachers, inaction about our skyrocketing healthcare costs, and the GOP’s culture of catering to special interests in Lansing. I was looking forward to the LWV candidate forum planned for the month of October because it would have given me a chance to answer questions directly from women in our community in a public setting. In the interest of fundamental fairness and transparency, my campaign has made it clear that we want to participate in multiple debates and forums, with specific attention paid to energy, education, and healthcare. These are the issues we hear about most as we continue to knock on thousands of doors, but it appears that Wendzel is moving in lockstep with the other Republicans around our state who have been expressly encouraged to decline any chance to speak directly to the people they are asking to vote them into positions of power. How is that leadership? I believe every voter deserves to hear directly from all of their candidates about their platform and their ideas for the future. Our community is so tired of politics as usual which seems to happen in the dark, as far from the public as possible, where politicians answer exclusively to Lansing insiders. So, for now, we will meet voters at their doors and continue to practice “front porch politics.” I am not afraid to stand in the light – right here in my home district – to give you my credentials as a lawyer and small business owner, and explain to everyone why I believe my positions, from support for southwest Michigan farms and farmers to investment in clean energy, will bring our district together to build a brighter future for all – not those who try to buy our votes and our silence. The time is now for openness and transparency, and we thank the Leagues of Women Voters for their invitation promoting both of those ideals. We really hope to have another chance to speak with their members soon. Sincerely, Joey Andrews Candidate for State Representative in Michigan’s 79th

Healthy Home Fair was a hit in Hartford The Van Buren Conservation District held its first ever Healthy Home Fair in Hartford last week. Almost 200 people came out for this free event to learn about ways to keep their homes, yards and septic systems environmentally clean. “We wanted to highlight some of the things people can do in their homes and yards to keep their environment clean and healthy,” says Erin Fuller of the Van Buren Conservation District. “People don’t always know how to properly dispose of household chemicals, test their well water or maintain their septic systems, so we had a variety of activities, demonstrations and giveaways to help with some of these less-than-fun tasks.” Popular activities at the fair included games (“To Flush or Not to Flush”), well water nitrate screening, a septic system display, rain barrel demonstrations and drawings for grocery gift cards and septic system pump-out vouchers. “SepticSmart week is September 17-21, so this was good timing to help people understand the impacts their septic systems can have on our lakes and rivers,” says Erin Fuller. SepticSmart Week is an annual event focused on educating homeowners and communities on the proper care and maintenance of their septic systems. The fair was funded in part through the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Nonpoint Source Program by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. For more information, contact the Van Buren Conservation District at 269-657-4030 x5 or visit www.vanburencd.org.

“Rake A Difference” mobilizes volunteers to help seniors with fall yard work Sign-ups open for United Way of Southwest Michigan’s 8th annual Day of Action for Seniors Before winter hits, raking your yard and cleaning out your gutters is a vital step to ensuring spring snow melt does not cause water damage to your home or lawn. Many area seniors try to accomplish this work on their own, putting them at risk for falls and serious injury. United Way of Southwest Michigan is inviting community members to give them a helping hand when prepping for winter. On Thursday, November 8, hundreds of area volunteers, working as teams, will help seniors in Berrien and Cass counties rake and bag leaves and clean gutters as part of United Way’s 8th annual Day of Action for Seniors. The service is free of charge and serves seniors, age 60 and older, who are physically unable to perform yard work and can’t afford to pay for services. Seniors are helped on a first-come, first-serve basis, dependent on the number of volunteers recruited. “It’s very tough for many people in our community to winterize their homes, and this gives us one day to make a big difference,” stated Anna Murphy, President of United Way of Southwest Michigan. In 2017, the event saw more than 730 volunteers help over 230 senior citizens. Seniors and volunteers can sign up at uwsm.org/rakeadifference by Oct. 12. Major sponsors are The Home Depot Foundation – Store #2768, AEP, D.C. Cook Plant, French Paper Co., Gast Manufacturing, and the McLoughlin Family Foundation. Other sponsors are Andrews University, Chemical Bank, Hastings Mutual Insurance Co., Kemner Iott Benz, Kinexus, Lindberg/MPH, Niles Precision Company, Plante Moran, Silver Beach Pizza, United Federal Credit Union, and Vail Rubber Works.

Winning and losing “Nothing gets through! Nothing!” My encouraging cheer for my son in his AYSO soccer days was heard again and again at his Saturday games probably much to the annoyance of the other parents who quietly watched their kids win or lose every weekend. I didn’t care, not then and not now. He knew I was proud of his performance, and he was aggressively good at defense – scary good. Usually nothing got through. In AYSO everyone plays. That’s good. But everyone doesn’t win. And that’s good too. Both winning and losing teach. Both teach character and both teach skills. Being protected from losing also protects from winning. Keeping no score never lets you know how well you’ve performed in the arena. A primary motivation to improve is removed. It’s socialism on the soccer field. When you finally gr